I ain’t Never had nothin’

For as long as I can remember, I ain’t never had nothin.
Sure, I had clothes, shoes, and material possessions, but those things were always acquired at the cost of something important—like bills that needed to be paid. I’ve never went to stores “just to browse” or just to check out a sale. I only go to stores with a purpose of purchasing something that we need. I’ve never had “extra” money to buy things and rarely have I ever had a savings account for long periods of time. And even then I doubt it would have held over a hundred dollars.
My children have never had an abundance of anything, kinda like me. We’re usually operating out of one or two pair of shoes and rotating the rest of the stuff we need. A lot of women I know with gracious hearts pass down their clothes, that we take gratefully and this helps out more than I could ever express. And there are people that do little things here and there- school supplies, birthday cards, purses, underwear (new of course), just little things that show up right when we need them-but least when we expect them.
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
For as long as I can think back—whatever money and abundance were – I didn’t have it. I spent most of my young adult years trying to break free of this seemingly cursed life. I went to college three times and graduated, then I got a better job, then I got a better job. But before I got the better job, I got on welfare, then I got off of welfare. Then I decided that I was going to be better than the struggle. Except I didn’t know how. Rarely can something be torn down and rebuilt using the same materials. I had a new mindset but I was trying to use the same materials. Didn’t work.
Funny thing is, I had an all knowing and all powerful God (who was and still is on my side) and didn’t even know it. I had dreams and hopes for the future but I mean I barely had money for Christmas, how could I publish a book? How could I travel the world? How could I experience the world without the means and resources?
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
I discovered that Jesus loved me in 2016. Like for real loved me. Like no joking. He wanted the best for me always and he was always somehow with me, even when I wasn’t doing the right thing. Interesting. So you mean you’ve been here watching me struggle while you ate heavenly popcorn or something? Where were my angels? Were they sleeping or something ? Or were they against me too?
Okay, so it’s 2016 and now I am beginning to believe that God loves me and cares for me. Except for one thing. Every time hard times would come –well I guess hardER times is more appropriate because things were always hard—I would go all the way back to PRE-2016 where I my mind would always remind me –You ain’t never had nothin! My mind would torture my heart with thoughts like :
– Haven’t you been through enough?
-SO this is how God operates?
-Just die and get it over with, at least then you won’t have to worry about what you don’t have
-And why did you have kids?
-Like why did I get THESE parents?
-I just wish I had more support
And I could go on and on with the thoughts that would plague my mind day and night. New mindset but using the same materials I had before-which were doubt, fear, lack, resentment, and anger.
So as 2017 rolled in and quickly let me know that LIFE was still happening, I would still struggling with my life. One day I was grateful for the trouble, the next day I was mad about it, one day I was content with my life, the next day I just wanted to be able to do “insert some fleshly desire that would probably mask my real feelings” and then I would be okay. Like for real. I just know it. That’s the main reason why I can’t be happy because things just aren’t fair. I just want this or that and I just KNOW that it will make me content. New mindset –same materials. Remember –I ain’t got nothing but bill money and a LACK of time and support. I mean what am I supposed to use God? Everything I have goes to bills and OUR children and I don’t have anything “EXTRA” so what materials am I supposed to build with?
As a parent or aunt/uncle or anyone who is ever around kids—I’m sure you can relate to how sneaky and coy they are. How one minute they’re across the room and then the next minute they are on your phone in another room and you were not aware of ANY of it! I’m convinced this is how God moves. Quickly at times-when he’s in a good mood. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “enough is enough. She’s never gonna get it, let me just give her the answers.”
This is how the statement, “I ain’t never had nothin” hit me. IT was so true but not in the sense of what I thought. The clothes I wanted so badly, the pink nails I HAD to have, the sew in that I would just DIE without, the Jordan’s my children desperately needed, and the neighborhood and school that my children absolutely, positively NEEDED to attend were all NOTHIN.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test?”
Wait Paul—you could have left the last little part off ! I can imagine Paul with the side eye saying, “I mean unless you’re not REALLY a Christian!” and then he would put his hands up and say, “I’m just saying”
But how right is Paul in saying this to us? The same person who spoke to Moses, impregnated a virgin and healed a blind man with spit—this spirit is within US ?
My second thought—so have I been roaming around the wilderness this year because I was still walking around with my old mindset and without the power of Christ that I had cried at the altar and claimed to have accepted?
Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives within me.” –
How powerful is this?
This means while I am busily running behind material things, I am fortifying the power that these things have over me and forfeiting the presence of God that is within me!!
So –I truly ain’t never had nothin- UNTIL I found Jesus Christ.
Because the thing is—yes, we live in a fallen world. Calamity, death and destruction are going to happen, but the day to day things that drive us insane—the rat race to the top, the accumulation of material possessions, the human efforts to promote ourselves, the lack of financial abundance, the lack of good hair, good bodies, nice shapes, nice cars and the list could go on and on. –all these things wanted for the wrong reasons are simply NOTHIN!!
I used to tell people that if I died the next day—I would lay on my death bed and say that I had a hard life—and that perhaps that’s just what it was meant to be. Hard. Tough. Extreme.
But now I know that there is a greater good behind the tough, hard and extreme. Now I know that when the God promised to send a helper to help us through these extreme times for his purposes that he meant it. Now I know that the Creator of the universe planned my life out just like the other 7 billion people on this earth lives.
So although He may be eating heavenly popcorn watching me, I know that he’s not watching me suffer, rather he’s waiting for me to search for him, connect with him and ask him for guidance as what to do. But he’s also expecting that I will grow in maturity and in faith as time progresses.
So if I am lying in bed about to pass on to live with my father in heaven, I will say my life was tough and I suffered a lot, but I will also say that towards the end I did my very best to please my father and that even though I failed lots and lots and lots of times, I can honestly say that I know that HE saw my heart and he knew how much effort I put into just being a better person because I lived for him. He will see that I once I knew that I could activate his power within me—I was beginning to walk a little more like him, talk a little more like him and just REST In all of my circumstances -easy or hard.
I rarely know if what I am writing will actually help someone out or if I just believe that I’m a awesome writer, but I just hope that if you are reading this and going through something that has threatened to knock you off your feet (or maybe it already has) I just urge you to remember the last time that He rescued you (or not) but you made it through that situation. But this time, let’s tap into that power that you have ACCEPTED that inside of you and say, “God, you know my circumstances, tell me what to do, show me how to get through this! I want to learn and move on! Tell me if I’m wrong, help me do the right thing next time” or whatever your situation may be.
I really never have had much—the yearning was and always has been to break the cycle of poverty—but if I can start with acknowledging that Christ is within me and HE gave me the desires to break poverty which means that HE will provide the resources needed to do so—I can live with the tests and suffering lasting a little bit longer than I personally like.

For as long as I can remember, I ain’t never had nothin.
Sure, I had clothes, shoes, and material possessions, but those things were always acquired at the cost of something important—like bills that needed to be paid. I’ve never went to stores “just to browse” or just to check out a sale. I only go to stores with a purpose of purchasing something that we need. I’ve never had “extra” money to buy things and rarely have I ever had a savings account for long periods of time. And even then I doubt it would have held over a hundred dollars.
My children have never had an abundance of anything, kinda like me. We’re usually operating out of one or two pair of shoes and rotating the rest of the stuff we need. A lot of women I know with gracious hearts pass down their clothes, that we take gratefully and this helps out more than I could ever express. And there are people that do little things here and there- school supplies, birthday cards, purses, underwear (new of course), just little things that show up right when we need them-but least when we expect them.
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
For as long as I can think back—whatever money and abundance were – I didn’t have it. I spent most of my young adult years trying to break free of this seemingly cursed life. I went to college three times and graduated, then I got a better job, then I got a better job. But before I got the better job, I got on welfare, then I got off of welfare. Then I decided that I was going to be better than the struggle. Except I didn’t know how. Rarely can something be torn down and rebuilt using the same materials. I had a new mindset but I was trying to use the same materials. Didn’t work.
Funny thing is, I had an all knowing and all powerful God (who was and still is on my side) and didn’t even know it. I had dreams and hopes for the future but I mean I barely had money for Christmas, how could I publish a book? How could I travel the world? How could I experience the world without the means and resources?
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
I discovered that Jesus loved me in 2016. Like for real loved me. Like no joking. He wanted the best for me always and he was always somehow with me, even when I wasn’t doing the right thing. Interesting. So you mean you’ve been here watching me struggle while you ate heavenly popcorn or something? Where were my angels? Were they sleeping or something ? Or were they against me too?
Okay, so it’s 2016 and now I am beginning to believe that God loves me and cares for me. Except for one thing. Every time hard times would come –well I guess hardER times is more appropriate because things were always hard—I would go all the way back to PRE-2016 where I my mind would always remind me –You ain’t never had nothin! My mind would torture my heart with thoughts like :
– Haven’t you been through enough?
-SO this is how God operates?
-Just die and get it over with, at least then you won’t have to worry about what you don’t have
-And why did you have kids?
-Like why did I get THESE parents?
-I just wish I had more support
And I could go on and on with the thoughts that would plague my mind day and night. New mindset but using the same materials I had before-which were doubt, fear, lack, resentment, and anger.
So as 2017 rolled in and quickly let me know that LIFE was still happening, I would still struggling with my life. One day I was grateful for the trouble, the next day I was mad about it, one day I was content with my life, the next day I just wanted to be able to do “insert some fleshly desire that would probably mask my real feelings” and then I would be okay. Like for real. I just know it. That’s the main reason why I can’t be happy because things just aren’t fair. I just want this or that and I just KNOW that it will make me content. New mindset –same materials. Remember –I ain’t got nothing but bill money and a LACK of time and support. I mean what am I supposed to use God? Everything I have goes to bills and OUR children and I don’t have anything “EXTRA” so what materials am I supposed to build with?
As a parent or aunt/uncle or anyone who is ever around kids—I’m sure you can relate to how sneaky and coy they are. How one minute they’re across the room and then the next minute they are on your phone in another room and you were not aware of ANY of it! I’m convinced this is how God moves. Quickly at times-when he’s in a good mood. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “enough is enough. She’s never gonna get it, let me just give her the answers.”
This is how the statement, “I ain’t never had nothin” hit me. IT was so true but not in the sense of what I thought. The clothes I wanted so badly, the pink nails I HAD to have, the sew in that I would just DIE without, the Jordan’s my children desperately needed, and the neighborhood and school that my children absolutely, positively NEEDED to attend were all NOTHIN.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test?”
Wait Paul—you could have left the last little part off ! I can imagine Paul with the side eye saying, “I mean unless you’re not REALLY a Christian!” and then he would put his hands up and say, “I’m just saying”
But how right is Paul in saying this to us? The same person who spoke to Moses, impregnated a virgin and healed a blind man with spit—this spirit is within US ?
My second thought—so have I been roaming around the wilderness this year because I was still walking around with my old mindset and without the power of Christ that I had cried at the altar and claimed to have accepted?
Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives within me.” –
How powerful is this?
This means while I am busily running behind material things, I am fortifying the power that these things have over me and forfeiting the presence of God that is within me!!
So –I truly ain’t never had nothin- UNTIL I found Jesus Christ.
Because the thing is—yes, we live in a fallen world. Calamity, death and destruction are going to happen, but the day to day things that drive us insane—the rat race to the top, the accumulation of material possessions, the human efforts to promote ourselves, the lack of financial abundance, the lack of good hair, good bodies, nice shapes, nice cars and the list could go on and on. –all these things wanted for the wrong reasons are simply NOTHIN!!
I used to tell people that if I died the next day—I would lay on my death bed and say that I had a hard life—and that perhaps that’s just what it was meant to be. Hard. Tough. Extreme.
But now I know that there is a greater good behind the tough, hard and extreme. Now I know that when the God promised to send a helper to help us through these extreme times for his purposes that he meant it. Now I know that the Creator of the universe planned my life out just like the other 7 billion people on this earth lives.
So although He may be eating heavenly popcorn watching me, I know that he’s not watching me suffer, rather he’s waiting for me to search for him, connect with him and ask him for guidance as what to do. But he’s also expecting that I will grow in maturity and in faith as time progresses.
So if I am lying in bed about to pass on to live with my father in heaven, I will say my life was tough and I suffered a lot, but I will also say that towards the end I did my very best to please my father and that even though I failed lots and lots and lots of times, I can honestly say that I know that HE saw my heart and he knew how much effort I put into just being a better person because I lived for him. He will see that I once I knew that I could activate his power within me—I was beginning to walk a little more like him, talk a little more like him and just REST In all of my circumstances -easy or hard.
I rarely know if what I am writing will actually help someone out or if I just believe that I’m a awesome writer, but I just hope that if you are reading this and going through something that has threatened to knock you off your feet (or maybe it already has) I just urge you to remember the last time that He rescued you (or not) but you made it through that situation. But this time, let’s tap into that power that you have ACCEPTED that inside of you and say, “God, you know my circumstances, tell me what to do, show me how to get through this! I want to learn and move on! Tell me if I’m wrong, help me do the right thing next time” or whatever your situation may be.
I really never have had much—the yearning was and always has been to break the cycle of poverty—but if I can start with acknowledging that Christ is within me and HE gave me the desires to break poverty which means that HE will provide the resources needed to do so—I can live with the tests and suffering lasting a little bit longer than I personally like.

The Room Where It Happens

There are times where I am unequivocally inspired by my own journey.
My own experiences.
My own recovery.
My own resilience.
I am inspired by what I’ve overcome.

Then there are times where I look at myself through a blurry glass and wonder if I will ever feel whole. I am disgusted with the daily fight of being a survivor. Tainted by unplanned triggers and unwanted memories.

I am unable to soothe myself due to the daily tasks of fighting the day to day job of making something outta nothing. The resilience has faded into weariness and all that is left is a tired soul, tired of hoping that I won’t always resent myself or my body.

My mind is unforgiving. It chooses to remember the shapeless figures in the dark & every time I bathe I’m reminded that my body was someone else’s favorite first. I try to remind myself that I’m not choosing this, just as I didn’t choose the violation. But the memories seem to be embedded there.

My mind says ” don’t you forget that no one cares or that you weren’t important enough to save.”

I seem to be forever stuck in the room where it happened. I see the tv. The couch and the Carpet that is still there to this day. My mind is there. My memories are there.

I had a good 12 months where the memories were not as bad.
Not as strong.
Not as potent.

But then my nephew died & I felt the pit in my soul open back up. & then there it was.
The room.
The room where it happened.
Sitting there, almost waving at me to come in.
Have a seat.
Remember all that has hurt you.
The worst part.

One of the last times I held my nephew was in that room.
How could that room force it’s way into a good memory?
It’s not fair.

So while I want to erase the room, tear down the house, and never ride by there again, erasing that room will erase our last moments together.
Dammit.
It’s just not fair.

16 days later, I enter into another room.
It’s the ASCA MEETING ROOM.
it’s also a place that I haven’t visited in awhile.
But my spirits were low & I longed for the understanding that the silence of the room whispers back to you.

I longed for the smiles & the nods that said, “I get you. I am here.”
No one really has to say anything in that room.
This room is the room where it really happens.
& this is the room that I will focus on & unpack my memories in.

So as I sat in the room, legs tucked underneath me I realized 2 things.
I never sit that way anywhere else & I felt immediate ease.

I was laughing & smiling as I prepared to talk about difficult & disappointing things.
I realized that I was in the most important room of all.
This was the real room where it happens.
The room where the healing & understanding would overcome those awful memories.
The room where unworthiness would politely ease its way out of the door.
The room where inadequacy would not have space to sit.
The room where the silence spoke so loudly in waves of understanding & love.

I love this room.

I have been in recovery for almost 5 years & some days I think I have arrived where as some days feel like day 1. But I want to encourage you to come & sit with us in this room. There’s no bright light, lush & lavish furniture or an requirements of who you are SUPPOSED to be. There’s compassion, love & understanding waiting for you.

Undoubtedly, I will have another bad day or even week, but I know that the room where it happens will be available to me & you as well.

There are times where I am unequivocally inspired by my own journey.
My own experiences.
My own recovery.
My own resilience.
I am inspired by what I’ve overcome.

Then there are times where I look at myself through a blurry glass and wonder if I will ever feel whole. I am disgusted with the daily fight of being a survivor. Tainted by unplanned triggers and unwanted memories.

I am unable to soothe myself due to the daily tasks of fighting the day to day job of making something outta nothing. The resilience has faded into weariness and all that is left is a tired soul, tired of hoping that I won’t always resent myself or my body.

My mind is unforgiving. It chooses to remember the shapeless figures in the dark & every time I bathe I’m reminded that my body was someone else’s favorite first. I try to remind myself that I’m not choosing this, just as I didn’t choose the violation. But the memories seem to be embedded there.

My mind says ” don’t you forget that no one cares or that you weren’t important enough to save.”

I seem to be forever stuck in the room where it happened. I see the tv. The couch and the Carpet that is still there to this day. My mind is there. My memories are there.

I had a good 12 months where the memories were not as bad.
Not as strong.
Not as potent.

But then my nephew died & I felt the pit in my soul open back up. & then there it was.
The room.
The room where it happened.
Sitting there, almost waving at me to come in.
Have a seat.
Remember all that has hurt you.
The worst part.

One of the last times I held my nephew was in that room.
How could that room force it’s way into a good memory?
It’s not fair.

So while I want to erase the room, tear down the house, and never ride by there again, erasing that room will erase our last moments together.
Dammit.
It’s just not fair.

16 days later, I enter into another room.
It’s the ASCA MEETING ROOM.
it’s also a place that I haven’t visited in awhile.
But my spirits were low & I longed for the understanding that the silence of the room whispers back to you.

I longed for the smiles & the nods that said, “I get you. I am here.”
No one really has to say anything in that room.
This room is the room where it really happens.
& this is the room that I will focus on & unpack my memories in.

So as I sat in the room, legs tucked underneath me I realized 2 things.
I never sit that way anywhere else & I felt immediate ease.

I was laughing & smiling as I prepared to talk about difficult & disappointing things.
I realized that I was in the most important room of all.
This was the real room where it happens.
The room where the healing & understanding would overcome those awful memories.
The room where unworthiness would politely ease its way out of the door.
The room where inadequacy would not have space to sit.
The room where the silence spoke so loudly in waves of understanding & love.

I love this room.

I have been in recovery for almost 5 years & some days I think I have arrived where as some days feel like day 1. But I want to encourage you to come & sit with us in this room. There’s no bright light, lush & lavish furniture or an requirements of who you are SUPPOSED to be. There’s compassion, love & understanding waiting for you.

Undoubtedly, I will have another bad day or even week, but I know that the room where it happens will be available to me & you as well.

Always praying for your freedom,

 

Julian

5 Ways to deal with Depression in the work /home environment

5 Ways to Deal with Depression at work & at home
If I can be honest, it took me a while after discovering that I was dealing with depression to realize that it was not like the flu. You didn’t “get it” and take medicine for it to go away. This means that there was not specific “cure” to make it go away and stay away. This was a new concept for me because I always thought that there was an endpoint to things that had happened to me in my life, depression being no different. I remember my therapist telling me, “There is no nothing that makes it go away-often you just learn to deal with it better. Me being the person that I am, still thought that I could beat it!!

Needless to say, 2 years later and countless unfinished products later, she was right!
It comes and it goes. It stays and it leaves. Lingers along and then rushes away. I have not found the cure, perhaps the chemical side of it loves my brain, or perhaps this thorn in my side keeps me connected to God on a level that I would not have otherwise been able to have. As I dealt with different episodes last year with depression I began to find ways to get around it. Not necessarily to avoid it—but to get around its affects. Mental health –any kind is stigmatized. No one wants to raise their hand and say, “I deal with it.”
You don’t exactly pull someone to the side at work and say, “I feel hopeless and alone and I’m not motivated to get up in the morning!” Right, that wouldn’t go over so well!
In my quest to be better at this thing called life, be undefeatable and so the things that the Lord has called me to do –I created the top things that help me cope with depression!

1. Do double the work !
That’s right! My episodes generally last about 7-10 days- sometimes less! So during those other 20+ days during the month where I’m feeling at my optimum level, I get extra things done, like doing my lessons plans early (which is a struggle in itself) organizing bills ahead of time, being proactive in cleaning (laundry, deep cleaning, shopping) because the thing is during this time it takes a lot to do the mandatory things like work, cooking, etc. So I find that if some of those extra things like time to wash sheets, or an extra project at work that comes along its not pulling at my attention as much. I don’t ALWAYS do these things, but even if I can wrangle one or two off of my list, it makes those particularly hard days just a tad bit easier.

2. Acceptance of the circumstances of your mental health
Listen -I am not saying give up and die! However, I am saying that we have to accept that this is an issue that is very real in our lives and that ignoring it is not going to make it go way. I spent month after month assuring myself that the next month would not happen! I just knew that I could pray it away and make it not come back into my life. I even thought that I would fight with all of might the next time it snuck up into my life. It did NOT work. I just ended up feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t make it go away. I finally was smart enough to accept that I battled with chronic depression BUT that it was manageable. It was just like anything else in life, as much as I was willing to put into making the best of it was what I would get out of it. I accept that sometimes I wont feel the greatest or most motivated –which is normal! Even for people that don’t deal with depression!

3. Remind yourself that it is TEMPORARY
If you come to my house or actually anywhere where I spend a lot of time in (work, home) I have scriptures everywhere!! They remind me of the battles that the Lord has brought me through—they also remind me that I won’t feel this way always! I even write down joyful moments (like laughing with my children, having a good at work, feeling hopeful, connected to others, etc) It may sound cheesy to some, but it has worked wonders in me realizing that I won’t feel that ways for years or even months! I also read scriptures that remind me of God’s faithfulness and that my life is a portrait of who HE is not who I am.
4. Rest!
It may sound cliché, but resting is so good for our bodies! There may be people in the world who can go hard day after day, no matter the day! But I am not one of them! Not during the time when I am having an episode! Some days it takes everything to get out of bed and see the world as full of light and not darkness. On those days, my mind is in that place. Some days I can see hope and some days I despise it. But on those days, I give my permission to rest! I get the mandatory things done-work, family, church –and I rest. I don’t feel pity or sorry for myself –I just rest my body and my brain! I don’t try to save the world or even myself—I just rest. And I don’t apologize about it-it’s healthy for my mind and my body.
5. Be Present!
Whether you are at work or at home—be present! Talk to your children, play with them, laugh until your stomach hurts, touch them. Smile. Hug others. The thing is what depression does is separate your from your reality—the reality that you are loved by an almighty father! He wants us to see the beauty of the world around us—the world that He created for us! Smell the flowers, connect with creation. If you are at work—focus on work. If you are with your family-focus on them! I believe that God does not waste moments. He creates them for us to see who he is! This is apart of the process that I have to fight for the hardest! I can’t allow this issue to take away happy moments in my life! Even if my brain is telling me that its hopeless, the very fact that trees grow from seeds and the suns shines after a rainstorm reminds me that the darkness will not always stay! Those are thoughts that I hold onto—and it truly helps me and even makes me feel better most of the time!
I am no expert. I didn’t go to college for mental health. But who I am is a survivor of abuse both verbal, physical and sexual who still has trouble sleeping at night. Who starting this journey, 5 years ago, never thought I would smile again. Or laugh. Or love. Jesus has transformed my life, inside out and for that I am grateful. My education does not qualify me to give any advice about mental health, but the time I spend with God does. He qualifies. We obey!

But I spend time with God and He has shown me who he is countless times and in this showing me—he’s shown me beauty in dealing with depression! It makes me thankful that it only lasts 7 days and not 40. I am thankful that I can still speak, walk and talk. I am urged to help others who may be stuck and cannot seem to find a way out. But most importantly, I want to max out the gifts that he’s given me and not allow depression to rob me of the best of me! I hope some of these tips help!

Always praying for your freedom,

Julian

God’s Kaleidoscope

 

 

Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to listen to songs about love (since that is what I was inadvertently looking for) that spoke of undying love and “that connection” that was there and couldn’t be broken. I grew up hearing older women talk about how they had men in their lives who would “always” be there and for whatever reason they had always reconnected with, no matter who they were involved with. I guess in my own ways I was looking for my “person” that I could have the same things with.

I would listen to music while I cleaned up, while I drove, while I cooked. It seems like every free moment I had was spent listening to songs that spoke of my brokenness. If the song was melancholy and spoke of something that was missing, it was on repeat. So were my thoughts. My thoughts were on repeat of my past. I constantly thought of what happened to me as a child, the things I missed in high school, the boy that left, the parents that were absent, etc. The list went on and on and ALL of the thoughts were from my past! All of them!

I wanted love and acceptance that didn’t leave when we had a bad day. A love that didn’t get angry and hold it against me for days. I would belch the lyrics of the songs that made my brokenness acceptable. These lyrics spoke personally to shattered heart. My absent parents. My fatherless children. My empty bank account. When I would get high, I would allow the drugs to encompass my senses until the pain dulled. It never went away, but it was bearable because my heart didn’t have to hurt during those hours that I was intoxicated. I was filled temporarily with a strength that felt like I was made of steel and while it kept the emotions at bay, it wouldn’t allow anything good to come in either. I was not joyful or happy, I was either faking happiness or consumed by something that was going to be a filler for actually being okay. Those were my moods.

The kaleidoscope that I used was tinted with my pain. It only showed the pictures that I had stored up of my past. It did not see possibility for the future because I was replaying all of the images from the past. The direction that I turned the kaleidoscope in was always towards my past. The colors were dark—deep blues, dark red, tinted greens—those were the colors that I chose to see. Music was the key that opened the door labeled “past” for me. I loved that room. It was home, it was comfortable and it was all I knew.

What I loved most about smoking was the inhaling and exhaling of the nicotine. I loved the fact that it dulled my senses. I can look back now and see it was a “sitting place” for my pain. It seemed as if as soon as I picked it up, I grabbed a chair and went into my place of pain. The drugs made me feel in control. While I was intoxicated, I felt strong, I felt like I could face anything. My favorite statement used to be –“It is what it is.” The intoxication gave me this false sense strength that in reality was self-pity and acceptance that things would always be the way that they were.

I loved how the lyrics boasted of having sex, cursing, getting drunk/high and finding yourself in places the next morning and not being able to remember what happened. I would literally listen to those songs over and over again, screaming my favorite parts not knowing that those words were being embedded into my spirit and pushing me farther away from God.

The sin seared through my veins. I loved it. As much I hated the struggle, I loved feeling in control of my life. The music and melodies told me that -this is just the way that life is. Smoke it-drink it-sleep with him for money-sleep with him even though you know he has slept with such and such—it doesn’t matter if he has a condom-it feels better this way—But the songs—the songs say that this is what we do—the songs sing my life –the lyrics are speaking to me. There’s no way that they are wrong.

The music told me that my viewpoint was fine. The music sang the songs of the struggles of generations and mothers and fathers and violence and death. The music told the stories of drugs -cooking it, making it, selling it, –but this was my life. These were the things that I was doing, so it had to be okay to sing the songs, right?

“I know the Lord will make a way. I pray that the Lord makes a way. Lord let this come through for me. Lord let this check go through. Lord let this man call me so I can go get some money to pay this bill.”

That was the extent of my prayer life. I did not open my bible. I did not attend church often, I just assumed that the Lord either didn’t hear me or didn’t care. The only Holy Spirit I knew was the one who made the old women in church pass out or dance, I didn’t want Him. I mean, what would people think if I was singing all loud or dancing and shouting. I mean, like why would I do that? What would people say about me?

 

Because God knows who we are even in our mother’s wombs, he gave me the gift of loving words and writing them. He knew the life I would live, much like God knew the life that Jesus would live, when he placed him inside of Mary’s womb. He knew exactly how He wanted the message that He would give me to be written, so He gave me the LOVE of writing and words so that when it came time to tell my story, to tell what he has done for me, it would come out just the way He wanted it to come from ME. He knew the choices that I would make, the experience that I would have that would take me years to talk about, but only minutes to write! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was ready he began to send voices that I could “hear” and that would place me in places that I was able to hear what different people were saying about who God was. These people spoke directly to MY heart.

I stumbled upon a Hillsong Album after hearing one of their songs in a church service at The Gathering Oasis church where I attend. I remember walking down the aisle to receive prayer while they were worshipping to a song called “Oceans.” It was the very first time I had been bold enough to walk down the aisle and ask for prayer. The songs I were singing were no longer working, the nicotine didn’t have the same affect anymore and I was still hurting. No matter how much I smoked and how many red bulls I drank, there was something missing inside of me.

As I began to listen to sermons that my pastor preached using words like grace, mercy, purge, surrender, anoint, Holy Spirit, obedience and provision took on a new light for me.

Something began to happen.

My kaleidoscope began to change colors and pictures.

Now in the car I was listening to these songs whose lyrics spoke of the love that Jesus has for us. I began to be compelled to be different and better in a way that I had never before. The shapes changed and the patterns were somehow different.

I began to see that there was a magnitude of love that was just for me. I had my own door. It was mine. Jesus has already paid the price for it on the cross. I didn’t have to earn it. I didn’t have to wait hours for Him to calm down and still love me, it was reserved for me.

Discovering His love was the like discovering the water fountain that sits by the restroom- you never see it until you’re thirsty one day.

I didn’t know what Grace was until I decided that I needed to know that I was capable of receiving what was already given to me! I didn’t know what provision was until I allowed Him to provide for me. I didn’t know what surrender was until I laid it all down and said, “Have your way Lord” Truly.

As my logical mind struggled to make sense of these emotions and keep my kaleidoscope on the past pattern, the Holy Spirit continued to keep calling me telling me, “Its time daughter, it’s time to let it go”

I found myself saying, “But what will I do now that I am no longer angry?”

I wanted to change, I knew that I needed to change, but old patterns die hard. My kaleidoscope wanted to stay where it was, it didn’t want to have brighter colors and beautiful promises of the future, it wanted to “pretend” to be better, but keep the same pictures on reserve, just in case this “Jesus thing” fell through.

2 Chronicles 28:20 says, “Be strong and courageous, do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the services of the temple of the Lord is finished.”

What other proof do we need to see that we do not need a backup plan for Jesus?

 

Now that I was allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, the choices that I made in music were changing. The lyrics that I used to listen to no longer appealed to my sense as they had in the past.

Lyrics like, “Faith makes a fool of what makes sense”

“I found my life when I laid it down.”

“I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground”

..began to minister to my heart and I wanted more. I was finally feeling something rather than pain. Well let me be clear—I was still in pain, but I was surrendering that pain to Jesus the only one who could fill me up and I poured out the pain. At church, the corporate worship soothed my soul, the love I would feel brought tears to my eyes (on another blog I’ll talk about how I went years without ever crying) The drugs had never done this!  I began to actually enjoy church because as a new believer, I didn’t know how to create that atmosphere at home yet.

Always a writer, I began to unload on Jesus like never before. I would write pages and pages of stuff, that I wanted Him to know. I was choosing to study the bible, listen in church and use the people in the bible as my guides to how I was supposed to live life. I began to worship in the car, while I was cleaning up, while I was cooking. My children were staring at me asking me, “Why do you Love God so much now?”

As my heart decluttered I began to make room for the Holy Spirit to develop a relationship with me. How amazing is that?

So I get to 1 of only 2 concerts that I had ever attended in my life and I am completely humbled by this group of people (Hillsong United) serving Jesus. There’s no fancy glorious introductions or fanfare, they sang humbly to the crowd,

“The prince of peace came and broke into my heart.”

Much like the nicotine and alcohol used to intoxicate me, the presence of God was now in full effect! I knew without a shadow of doubt that He was there! I knew that we had gathered together and we had called, and He being the gracious God that He is, had shown up!

 

As I found myself trying to record the musicians and sing at the same time, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Why are you trying to record this moment, when you are here in it.”

It showed me that I had achieved what I had been waiting for on my journey of living for Jesus.

He spoke to me because He is always there. I could hear Him in my heart.  Despite the crowd. Despite the music. I had heard Him speak to me.

As I sang with the crowd and soaked in every moment. The lights, the music, the crowd—I realized that although these were the same songs that I had listened to on repeat for the past year, they sounded different. I don’t know if it was because the lyrics were on the screen or that they were literally only a few feet away from me—but it all sounded brand new.

Verses like, “here I am at your feet again, reaching out I surrender” filled me with so much love I thought I would burst open!!

It was in that moment standing there in 100-degree weather, very sweaty, feet hurting, heart full that I felt the full love of God. I realized that we were not separated by color, socioeconomic status, or anything else. We were one body standing in agreement that we wanted to serve God. We agreed that we wanted to live for Him.

I had imagined that when I finally bought a house, or when I paid my car off, or when I finally got married that I would feel completely filled up but I was wrong. In that moment, I had a glimpse of what it would be like to completely live for Him and be filled up in His presence.

So stood there sweating and crying, both of them mixing together in salty love for Jesus. I no longer had any type of doubt in my heart that he was real and alive. Nothing had changed from the moment I walked into the concert and the time I had been standing there, but I was changed.

That was it!! It was the feeling I had been searching for!

My kaleidoscope had forever been changed.  I knew that if I trusted Him he was going to finish the work that he started in me. I knew that if I let go of what I thought I needed or wanted and allowed Him to use me for His glory that His desires would be manifested into my heart. Everything that I had looked for in a friend, man, woman, job or car had been found in HIM.

I realized that because of my life, I had chosen to see the pictures that I wanted to see in MY kaleidoscope instead of using God’s kaleidoscope to see life. And even though I had always known that my perspective would change before my life did, I realized that when I was looking through my own lens, I was more likely to leave situations feeling offended, angry and upset because I wasn’t looking at God’s heart or my own in those situations.

Now that I knew how to use his kaleidoscope, I knew that I would finally begin to walk in the Purpose that He had for me.  J

 

 

 

Are You ready?

As I sit in my hospital room I can see the traffic go back and forth down the street. I see the cars coming and going in the parking deck. If I look closely I can also see people getting gas across the street. I’ve been in the hospital for 5 days and when I got admitted, I was not prepared. I was in pain for about a week before I got here and I kept telling myself that it would just go away and that I would feel better soon. I even went to Urgent Care and they told me that it was nothing serious. When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I finally came to the hospital and I have been here ever since.
“Most people that have waited at the hospital will tell you that it’s the waiting that gets to you.”
 You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know what the tests mean. So you’re just sitting there. I waited for about 5 hours before I finally was told what was wrong with me. I really didn’t care at the moment, I just wanted to know if they could give me something that would make me feel better. A nurse led me back to a triage and told me to take my clothes off and put on a gown. From there, I was taken to get X-Rays and then a CT scan. I was given something called “contrast” and told that it would take about 7 minutes and that it would feel like I was urinating on myself but I wasn’t. It took 10 minutes, I did feel like I was urinating on myself and when I was finished I felt nauseous. I asked if I could have some water and I was told no, in case you need surgery! Surgery! What do you mean? I didn’t say that out loud because I was in pain, exhausted and scared just a little bit. But you know what was the scary part? Wondering if God was pleased with me? Wondering if what I had done up until that point was enough? Had I loved enough? Forgiven enough? Given enough?
The next thing that I thought about was how unprepared I was for this interruption to my life. In my work bag, I had my computer, Ipad, and cell phone and two books. In my purse I had a pack of chewing gum, Vaseline, 3 now and laters, body spray, lotion, my wallet, car keys, and pens. I didn’t have body wash, deodorant, underwear or anything else I would need to stay overnight anywhere. Thank goodness my children were with my family. Who was going to water my plants? What about the dishes I left in the sink? I hadn’t kissed my kids in a few weeks? Did I tell them I loved them last time we talked or was I preoccupied? Isn’t it funny how we don’t think of the important things until we are faced with the fact that we may not be able to return to them? Isn’t this like our relationship with God? We don’t have time to study, we don’t have time to go to church, we don’t have time to do what the bible says, but when faced with a problem, He suddenly becomes our go-to person?
As I lay there in the bed alone, hearing the hum of the IV machine and the thump of my heartbeat, all I could think about was how many times I took my health for granted. I would say, “Oh, I need to quit this or that, or I need to start doing this or that” never being INTENTIONAL about taking care of my body. I was unprepared. It’s also funny how when the doctor starts asking us questions about our lives we start becoming embarrassed, worrying about their judgement, never thinking about the judgement of GOD every single day that we disobey him by not honoring our bodies. 1 Cor 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies.”
And here I was worried about what the doctor would think, not realizing that I was dishonoring God by not taking care of my body, mind and spirit.
Romans 14:11 says, “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me, every tongue will acknowledge God. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
Are you ready to answer to God?
Are you ready to defend yourself to fornication?
Are you ready to explain to him while you are still cussing like a sailor and gossiping about others and not being kind?
Are you ready to explain to him why you are listening to music that degrades men and women and does not glorify him?
Most importantly are you ready to tell him why you aren’t being obedient to his word? These are the questions that I asked myself?
I used to be that person that picked and chose what I wanted to believe from the bible. Yep, that was me. “I mean I try not to curse, but it’s hard. I mean everyone is having sex, it can’t be that wrong.” What does “that” wrong mean? Do you see where sex before marriage got you? Taking care of three children!!
This time in the hospital showed me how I wasn’t preparing for eternity like I thought that I was. Had I been obedient as the Lord had told me and written my book? (nope, not quite) I’m busy Lord, I have to work, what am I supposed to do? Faith don’t pay the bills, Lord.
“Well Julian, I put the words in you, I will give you what you need to get them out, But are you asking me for guidance, or still trying to do it on your own. Do you not know that I am your provider? ME! Not your job. Not your friends. Not your bank account or savings account.”
Lord I just don’t have time to work out! You know how much traffic I have to sit in back and forth to work? “Julian, have you submitted your schedule to me and asked me to help you and guide you?”
I was not being intentional about my salvation and obedience. I was still foolishly trying to control my circumstances.
As I looked out the window 5 days later, the cool glass on my forehead was the only barrier between me and the outside world. I could have been anywhere. Jail, mental institution, held hostage. We simply don’t miss our freedom to choose until it’s taken away from us. I missed the wind on my face. The smell of morning. The songs that the birds sang. I missed being able to let my windows down and feel the sun on my skin. I missed hearing the sounds of the city waking up to go to work.
I knew that I had to get ready if I wasn’t ready.

God’s Kaleidoscope

 

 

Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to listen to songs about love (since that is what I was inadvertently looking for) that spoke of undying love and “that connection” that was there and couldn’t be broken. I grew up hearing older women talk about how they had men in their lives who would “always” be there and for whatever reason they had always reconnected with, no matter who they were involved with. I guess in my own ways I was looking for my “person” that I could have the same things with.

I would listen to music while I cleaned up, while I drove, while I cooked. It seems like every free moment I had was spent listening to songs that spoke of my brokenness. If the song was melancholy and spoke of something that was missing, it was on repeat. So were my thoughts. My thoughts were on repeat of my past. I constantly thought of what happened to me as a child, the things I missed in high school, the boy that left, the parents that were absent, etc. The list went on and on and ALL of the thoughts were from my past! All of them!

I wanted love and acceptance that didn’t leave when we had a bad day. A love that didn’t get angry and hold it against me for days. I would belch the lyrics of the songs that made my brokenness acceptable. These lyrics spoke personally to shattered heart. My absent parents. My fatherless children. My empty bank account. When I would get high, I would allow the drugs to encompass my senses until the pain dulled. It never went away, but it was bearable because my heart didn’t have to hurt during those hours that I was intoxicated. I was filled temporarily with a strength that felt like I was made of steel and while it kept the emotions at bay, it wouldn’t allow anything good to come in either. I was not joyful or happy, I was either faking happiness or consumed by something that was going to be a filler for actually being okay. Those were my moods.

The kaleidoscope that I used was tinted with my pain. It only showed the pictures that I had stored up of my past. It did not see possibility for the future because I was replaying all of the images from the past. The direction that I turned the kaleidoscope in was always towards my past. The colors were dark—deep blues, dark red, tinted greens—those were the colors that I chose to see. Music was the key that opened the door labeled “past” for me. I loved that room. It was home, it was comfortable and it was all I knew.

What I loved most about smoking was the inhaling and exhaling of the nicotine. I loved the fact that it dulled my senses. I can look back now and see it was a “sitting place” for my pain. It seemed as if as soon as I picked it up, I grabbed a chair and went into my place of pain. The drugs made me feel in control. While I was intoxicated, I felt strong, I felt like I could face anything. My favorite statement used to be –“It is what it is.” The intoxication gave me this false sense strength that in reality was self-pity and acceptance that things would always be the way that they were.

I loved how the lyrics boasted of having sex, cursing, getting drunk/high and finding yourself in places the next morning and not being able to remember what happened. I would literally listen to those songs over and over again, screaming my favorite parts not knowing that those words were being embedded into my spirit and pushing me farther away from God.

The sin seared through my veins. I loved it. As much I hated the struggle, I loved feeling in control of my life. The music and melodies told me that -this is just the way that life is. Smoke it-drink it-sleep with him for money-sleep with him even though you know he has slept with such and such—it doesn’t matter if he has a condom-it feels better this way—But the songs—the songs say that this is what we do—the songs sing my life –the lyrics are speaking to me. There’s no way that they are wrong.

The music told me that my viewpoint was fine. The music sang the songs of the struggles of generations and mothers and fathers and violence and death. The music told the stories of drugs -cooking it, making it, selling it, –but this was my life. These were the things that I was doing, so it had to be okay to sing the songs, right?

“I know the Lord will make a way. I pray that the Lord makes a way. Lord let this come through for me. Lord let this check go through. Lord let this man call me so I can go get some money to pay this bill.”

That was the extent of my prayer life. I did not open my bible. I did not attend church often, I just assumed that the Lord either didn’t hear me or didn’t care. The only Holy Spirit I knew was the one who made the old women in church pass out or dance, I didn’t want Him. I mean, what would people think if I was singing all loud or dancing and shouting. I mean, like why would I do that? What would people say about me?

 

Because God knows who we are even in our mother’s wombs, he gave me the gift of loving words and writing them. He knew the life I would live, much like God knew the life that Jesus would live, when he placed him inside of Mary’s womb. He knew exactly how He wanted the message that He would give me to be written, so He gave me the LOVE of writing and words so that when it came time to tell my story, to tell what he has done for me, it would come out just the way He wanted it to come from ME. He knew the choices that I would make, the experience that I would have that would take me years to talk about, but only minutes to write! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was ready he began to send voices that I could “hear” and that would place me in places that I was able to hear what different people were saying about who God was. These people spoke directly to MY heart.

I stumbled upon a Hillsong Album after hearing one of their songs in a church service at The Gathering Oasis church where I attend. I remember walking down the aisle to receive prayer while they were worshipping to a song called “Oceans.” It was the very first time I had been bold enough to walk down the aisle and ask for prayer. The songs I were singing were no longer working, the nicotine didn’t have the same affect anymore and I was still hurting. No matter how much I smoked and how many red bulls I drank, there was something missing inside of me.

As I began to listen to sermons that my pastor preached using words like grace, mercy, purge, surrender, anoint, Holy Spirit, obedience and provision took on a new light for me.

Something began to happen.

My kaleidoscope began to change colors and pictures.

Now in the car I was listening to these songs whose lyrics spoke of the love that Jesus has for us. I began to be compelled to be different and better in a way that I had never before. The shapes changed and the patterns were somehow different.

I began to see that there was a magnitude of love that was just for me. I had my own door. It was mine. Jesus has already paid the price for it on the cross. I didn’t have to earn it. I didn’t have to wait hours for Him to calm down and still love me, it was reserved for me.

Discovering His love was the like discovering the water fountain that sits by the restroom- you never see it until you’re thirsty one day.

I didn’t know what Grace was until I decided that I needed to know that I was capable of receiving what was already given to me! I didn’t know what provision was until I allowed Him to provide for me. I didn’t know what surrender was until I laid it all down and said, “Have your way Lord” Truly.

As my logical mind struggled to make sense of these emotions and keep my kaleidoscope on the past pattern, the Holy Spirit continued to keep calling me telling me, “Its time daughter, it’s time to let it go”

I found myself saying, “But what will I do now that I am no longer angry?”

I wanted to change, I knew that I needed to change, but old patterns die hard. My kaleidoscope wanted to stay where it was, it didn’t want to have brighter colors and beautiful promises of the future, it wanted to “pretend” to be better, but keep the same pictures on reserve, just in case this “Jesus thing” fell through.

2 Chronicles 28:20 says, “Be strong and courageous, do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the services of the temple of the Lord is finished.”

What other proof do we need to see that we do not need a backup plan for Jesus?

 

Now that I was allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, the choices that I made in music were changing. The lyrics that I used to listen to no longer appealed to my sense as they had in the past.

Lyrics like, “Faith makes a fool of what makes sense”

“I found my life when I laid it down.”

“I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground”

..began to minister to my heart and I wanted more. I was finally feeling something rather than pain. Well let me be clear—I was still in pain, but I was surrendering that pain to Jesus the only one who could fill me up and I poured out the pain. At church, the corporate worship soothed my soul, the love I would feel brought tears to my eyes (on another blog I’ll talk about how I went years without ever crying) The drugs had never done this!  I began to actually enjoy church because as a new believer, I didn’t know how to create that atmosphere at home yet.

Always a writer, I began to unload on Jesus like never before. I would write pages and pages of stuff, that I wanted Him to know. I was choosing to study the bible, listen in church and use the people in the bible as my guides to how I was supposed to live life. I began to worship in the car, while I was cleaning up, while I was cooking. My children were staring at me asking me, “Why do you Love God so much now?”

As my heart decluttered I began to make room for the Holy Spirit to develop a relationship with me. How amazing is that?

So I get to 1 of only 2 concerts that I had ever attended in my life and I am completely humbled by this group of people (Hillsong United) serving Jesus. There’s no fancy glorious introductions or fanfare, they sang humbly to the crowd,

“The prince of peace came and broke into my heart.”

Much like the nicotine and alcohol used to intoxicate me, the presence of God was now in full effect! I knew without a shadow of doubt that He was there! I knew that we had gathered together and we had called, and He being the gracious God that He is, had shown up!

 

As I found myself trying to record the musicians and sing at the same time, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Why are you trying to record this moment, when you are here in it.”

It showed me that I had achieved what I had been waiting for on my journey of living for Jesus.

He spoke to me because He is always there. I could hear Him in my heart.  Despite the crowd. Despite the music. I had heard Him speak to me.

As I sang with the crowd and soaked in every moment. The lights, the music, the crowd—I realized that although these were the same songs that I had listened to on repeat for the past year, they sounded different. I don’t know if it was because the lyrics were on the screen or that they were literally only a few feet away from me—but it all sounded brand new.

Verses like, “here I am at your feet again, reaching out I surrender” filled me with so much love I thought I would burst open!!

It was in that moment standing there in 100-degree weather, very sweaty, feet hurting, heart full that I felt the full love of God. I realized that we were not separated by color, socioeconomic status, or anything else. We were one body standing in agreement that we wanted to serve God. We agreed that we wanted to live for Him.

I had imagined that when I finally bought a house, or when I paid my car off, or when I finally got married that I would feel completely filled up but I was wrong. In that moment, I had a glimpse of what it would be like to completely live for Him and be filled up in His presence.

So stood there sweating and crying, both of them mixing together in salty love for Jesus. I no longer had any type of doubt in my heart that he was real and alive. Nothing had changed from the moment I walked into the concert and the time I had been standing there, but I was changed.

That was it!! It was the feeling I had been searching for!

My kaleidoscope had forever been changed.  I knew that if I trusted Him he was going to finish the work that he started in me. I knew that if I let go of what I thought I needed or wanted and allowed Him to use me for His glory that His desires would be manifested into my heart. Everything that I had looked for in a friend, man, woman, job or car had been found in HIM.

I realized that because of my life, I had chosen to see the pictures that I wanted to see in MY kaleidoscope instead of using God’s kaleidoscope to see life. And even though I had always known that my perspective would change before my life did, I realized that when I was looking through my own lens, I was more likely to leave situations feeling offended, angry and upset because I wasn’t looking at God’s heart or my own in those situations.

Now that I knew how to use his kaleidoscope, I knew that I would finally begin to walk in the Purpose that He had for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Ready?

As I sit in my hospital room I can see the traffic go back and forth down the street. I see the cars coming and going in the parking deck. If I look closely I can also see people getting gas across the street. I’ve been in the hospital for 5 days and when I got admitted, I was not prepared. I was in pain for about a week before I got here and I kept telling myself that it would just go away and that I would feel better soon. I even went to Urgent Care and they told me that it was nothing serious. When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I finally came to the hospital and I have been here ever since.

Most people that have waited at the hospital will tell you that it’s the waiting that gets to you. You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know what the tests mean. So you’re just sitting there. I waited for about 5 hours before I finally was told what was wrong with me. I really didn’t care at the moment, I just wanted to know if they could give me something that would make me feel better. A nurse led me back to a triage and told me to take my clothes off and put on a gown. From there, I was taken to get X-Rays and then a CT scan. I was given something called “contrast” and told that it would take about 7 minutes and that it would feel like I was urinating on myself but I wasn’t. It took 10 minutes, I did feel like I was urinating on myself and when I was finished I felt nauseous. I asked if I could have some water and I was told no, in case you need surgery! Surgery! What do you mean? I didn’t say that out loud because I was in pain, exhausted and scared just a little bit. But you know what was the scary part? Wondering if God was pleased with me? Wondering if what I had done up until that point was enough? Had I loved enough? Forgiven enough? Given enough?

The next thing that I thought about was how unprepared I was for this interruption to my life. In my work bag, I had my computer, Ipad, and cell phone and two books.  In my purse I had a pack of chewing gum, Vaseline, 3 now and laters, body spray, lotion, my wallet, car keys, and pens. I didn’t have body wash, deodorant, underwear or anything else I would need to stay overnight anywhere. Thank goodness my children were with my family. Who was going to water my plants? What about the dishes I left in the sink? I hadn’t kissed my kids in a few weeks? Did I tell them I loved them last time we talked or was I preoccupied? Isn’t it funny how we don’t think of the important things until we are faced with the fact that we may not be able to return to them? Isn’t this like our relationship with God? We don’t have time to study, we don’t have time to go to church, we don’t have time to do what the bible says, but when faced with a problem, He suddenly becomes our go-to person?

As I laid there in the bed alone, hearing the hum of the IV machine and the thump of my heartbeat, all I could think about was how many times I took my health for granted. I would say, “Oh, I need to quit this or that, or I need to start doing this or that” never being INTENTIONAL about taking care of my body. I was unprepared. It’s also funny how when the doctor starts asking us questions about our lives we start becoming embarrassed, worrying about their judgement, never thinking about the judgement of GOD every single day that we disobey him by not honoring our bodies. 1 Cor 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies.” And here I was worried about what the doctor would think, not realizing that I was dishonoring God by not taking care of my body, mind and spirit.

Romans 14:11 says, “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me, every tongue will acknowledge God. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

Are you ready to answer to God?

Are you ready to defend yourself to fornication?

Are you ready to explain to him while you are still cussing like a sailor and gossiping about others and not being kind?

Are you ready to explain to him why you are listening to music that degrades men and women and does not glorify him?

Most importantly are you ready to tell him why you aren’t being obedient to his word? These are the questions that I asked myself?

I used to be that person that picked and chose what I wanted to believe from the bible. Yep, that was me. “I mean I try not to curse, but it’s hard. I mean everyone is having sex, it can’t be that wrong.”  What does “that” wrong mean? Do you see where sex before marriage got you? Taking care of three children!!

This time in the hospital showed me how I wasn’t preparing for eternity like I thought that I was. Had I been obedient as the Lord had told me and written my book?  (nope, not quite) I’m busy Lord, I have to work, what am I supposed to do? Faith don’t pay the bills, Lord. “Well Julian, I put the words in you, I will give you what you need to get them out, But are you asking me for guidance, or still trying to do it on your own. Do you not know that I am your provider? ME! Not your job. Not your friends. Not your bank account or savings account.”

Lord I just don’t have time to work out! You know how much traffic I have to sit in back and forth to work? “Julian, have you submitted your schedule to me and asked me to help you and guide you?”

I was not being intentional about my salvation and obedience. I was still foolishly trying to control my circumstances.

As I looked out the window 5 days later, the cool glass on my forehead was the only barrier between me and the outside world. I could have been anywhere. Jail, mental institution, held hostage. We simply don’t miss our freedom to choose until it’s taken away from us. I missed the wind on my face. The smell of morning. The songs that the birds sang. I missed being able to let my windows down and feel the sun on my skin. I missed hearing the sounds of the city waking up to go to work.As I sit in my hospital room I can see the traffic go back and forth down the street. I see the cars coming and going in the parking deck. If I look closely I can also see people getting gas across the street. I’ve been in the hospital for 5 days and when I got admitted, I was not prepared. I was in pain for about a week before I got here and I kept telling myself that it would just go away and that I would feel better soon. I even went to Urgent Care and they told me that it was nothing serious. When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I finally came to the hospital and I have been here ever since.
Most people that have waited at the hospital will tell you that it’s the waiting that gets to you. You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know what the tests mean. So you’re just sitting there. I waited for about 5 hours before I finally was told what was wrong with me. I really didn’t care at the moment, I just wanted to know if they could give me something that would make me feel better. A nurse led me back to a triage and told me to take my clothes off and put on a gown. From there, I was taken to get X-Rays and then a CT scan. I was given something called “contrast” and told that it would take about 7 minutes and that it would feel like I was urinating on myself but I wasn’t. It took 10 minutes, I did feel like I was urinating on myself and when I was finished I felt nauseous. I asked if I could have some water and I was told no, in case you need surgery! Surgery! What do you mean? I didn’t say that out loud because I was in pain, exhausted and scared just a little bit. But you know what was the scary part? Wondering if God was pleased with me? Wondering if what I had done up until that point was enough? Had I loved enough? Forgiven enough? Given enough?
The next thing that I thought about was how unprepared I was for this interruption to my life. In my work bag, I had my computer, Ipad, and cell phone and two books. In my purse I had a pack of chewing gum, Vaseline, 3 now and laters, body spray, lotion, my wallet, car keys, and pens. I didn’t have body wash, deodorant, underwear or anything else I would need to stay overnight anywhere. Thank goodness my children were with my family. Who was going to water my plants? What about the dishes I left in the sink? I hadn’t kissed my kids in a few weeks? Did I tell them I loved them last time we talked or was I preoccupied? Isn’t it funny how we don’t think of the important things until we are faced with the fact that we may not be able to return to them? Isn’t this like our relationship with God? We don’t have time to study, we don’t have time to go to church, we don’t have time to do what the bible says, but when faced with a problem, He suddenly becomes our go-to person?
As I laid there in the bed alone, hearing the hum of the IV machine and the thump of my heartbeat, all I could think about was how many times I took my health for granted. I would say, “Oh, I need to quit this or that, or I need to start doing this or that” never being INTENTIONAL about taking care of my body. I was unprepared. It’s also funny how when the doctor starts asking us questions about our lives we start becoming embarrassed, worrying about their judgement, never thinking about the judgement of GOD every single day that we disobey him by not honoring our bodies. 1 Cor 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies.” And here I was worried about what the doctor would think, not realizing that I was dishonoring God by not taking care of my body, mind and spirit.
Romans 14:11 says, “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me, every tongue will acknowledge God. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
Are you ready to answer to God?
Are you ready to defend yourself to fornication?
Are you ready to explain to him while you are still cussing like a sailor and gossiping about others and not being kind?
Are you ready to explain to him why you are listening to music that degrades men and women and does not glorify him?
Most importantly are you ready to tell him why you aren’t being obedient to his word? These are the questions that I asked myself?
I used to be that person that picked and chose what I wanted to believe from the bible. Yep, that was me. “I mean I try not to curse, but it’s hard. I mean everyone is having sex, it can’t be that wrong.” What does “that” wrong mean? Do you see where sex before marriage got you? Taking care of three children!!
This time in the hospital showed me how I wasn’t preparing for eternity like I thought that I was. Had I been obedient as the Lord had told me and written my book? (nope, not quite) I’m busy Lord, I have to work, what am I supposed to do? Faith don’t pay the bills, Lord.
“Well Julian, I put the words in you, I will give you what you need to get them out, But are you asking me for guidance, or still trying to do it on your own. Do you not know that I am your provider? ME! Not your job. Not your friends. Not your bank account or savings account.”
Lord I just don’t have time to work out! You know how much traffic I have to sit in back and forth to work? “Julian, have you submitted your schedule to me and asked me to help you and guide you?”
I was not being intentional about my salvation and obedience. I was still foolishly trying to control my circumstances.
As I looked out the window 5 days later, the cool glass on my forehead was the only barrier between me and the outside world. I could have been anywhere. Jail, mental institution, held hostage. We simply don’t miss our freedom to choose until it’s taken away from us. I missed the wind on my face. The smell of morning. The songs that the birds sang. I missed being able to let my windows down and feel the sun on my skin. I missed hearing the sounds of the city waking up to go to work.

I Wonder…

I wonder if we all miss her because in our own ways we have a piece of her being that runs through our veins. When I was young, I did not know who she really was. I knew some things about her like what her favorite perfume was, what she liked to eat, how she wore her hair. But I never truly knew who she was. I think of the people she left behind to carry her legacy and I wonder if her heart would be broken or if it was already broken long before she died.

As a mother myself now, I think of my children and what thoughts I have of them. Sometimes I think to myself, “When she gets older, I can’t wait to tell her how I sometimes wondered if she would ever make it.” I wonder how she felt to have children in prison and feel hopeless. I wonder how she felt to get sick and not be herself anymore. I wonder how she felt to see me go “my own way”. I used to cry because I missed her, now I cry because I didn’t get to know who she was.

As I leave a job that I’ve worked for 8 hours and go to another one, I wonder if this was the dream that she had for me. I wonder if in her heart she wanted to tell me to “do the right thing” and worry about men and babies later. I wonder when she looks down from heaven if her heart weeps for me and she watches me cry myself to sleep sometimes. I never told her I loved her. I know that she knew, but it doesn’t make it easier. I wonder if she hears me tell the Lord how tired I get and how I cling to him because he’s all that I have.

She never sat me down and had “the talk” with me about sex, men, life or anything else, but her actions showed me how to be responsible and take care of the family. The more I learn about life, the more I learn about her. I wonder if she ever cried at night. I wonder what it did to her soul to see her life fall apart before her eyes and lose sight of all that she had and all that she was.

I wonder what her dreams were. Did she have them? She grew up in a time that I could only imagine from reading and watching documentaries about. I wonder if she loved me because she knew I was chosen? I wonder if she saw “it” in me. The “it” that signified that I had been chosen by God to carry burdens and still live? I wonder if she knew what was happening when she went to work at night? I love her anyway. I miss her anyway. If that was my burden to carry for God to bring me into who I was destined to be, I’ll carry it with pride.

I wonder if her heart broke and she gave up. I wonder why she was given to me to be a reminder of what I don’t have anymore. I wonder if I am even a key factor in her story in the first place. I wonder what we would talk about if she was still alive. I wonder who I would be.I used to pray that she lived to see me graduate from high school and sometimes I wonder if I would have prayed harder and for a longer period of time if it would have helped?

She was such a huge part of my childhood and I cry when I think of the times that I hurt her and caused her grief. I find my children being the same way sometimes and I wonder if I think the same thoughts that she thought.  If she were here, I would ask her about her life? I would ask her about her strength to endure and what she did on the nights she cried herself to sleep and wanted to give up? I’d ask her about her childhood and her father and mother. I’d ask her how it felt to buy a house and raise your children through their teenage years. I’d ask her if heaven could be put into words and I’d ask her to describe it.

I’d ask her how it felt to be completely at peace with your life and how it felt to face God and recount for her life.

I miss her. Today. Yesterday. Last month. Last week. Tomorrow. Next year. Next month. I miss her.

Happy Birthday Grandma.

Old Triggers, New Solutions

Most days I would be willing to be almost completely certain that I am pass the effects of my childhood abuse. Then like a stain that you didn’t see on your shirt while you were getting dressed this morning, when you get in the light, everything is visible. The effects come back to show you that they are there. There are days and weeks even when what happened to me doesn’t bother me at all. Matter of fact, I don’t even think of what happened to me. I laugh, I love, I enjoy life. I fully thrive in the way which God created me to love. Then there are days where I feel 12 years old again.

My mom was nowhere to be found during these years. My dad was in prison somewhere in another state. I lived with my grandmother and uncles in her home. The same uncles that had sex with me were often the same ones who gave me money to get the things that I needed to survive. I’ll never forget the moment I realized that I would be expected to take care of myself and that no one was there for me. I don’t remember what I needed as much as the fact that I didn’t get it. I remember waiting on my grandmother’s porch for hours, watching every car that passed by hoping that my mom was one of the cars coming down the street. Maybe that was the first time my heart broke.

I remember not having lunch money for school. I remember not having school clothes to wear back on the first day. I remember not having tissue, food or my hair done all pretty like the other girls. I remember feeling “empty”. I remember being alone.

I would also agree that on today I feel like my life is full of love and possibilities and hope for a future, but there are still days that I feel like I am 12. I am in the position where I feel like I am doing everything possible to survive and yet it never seems like enough. It takes me back to being 12 and not able to survive on my own. I only 12 years of hurt at that age, but what do you do with 31 years?

Today I was triggered by a child that was being a child. Running, playing, asking questions and being that I have felt like my heart was very fragile the past few weeks, it made me think of what kind of child I was before the first time someone touched my body. I was 4 years old. So I had 4 years of being normal with normal emotions. I’ve lived 8 times that age now. I’ve had 31 years of fighting depression, anxiety, feelings of self-worthlessness, loneliness and of being unworthy. It never truly leaves.

It’s been months since I’ve written on ASCA, but I felt compelled to write today. This may not make much sense or flow any kind of way, but sometimes words don’t fit a perfect rhythm, they just work. And this works. But I thought about the people that come to this page to find something that makes them believe that it will get better one day. They look for something that makes them feel like it wasn’t all for nothing. They want to see something that shows them that you can learn to live and love yourself still, despite what life has given you.

I’m still hurt, I’m still lonely at times, right now my PAST tells me that I am still unworthy and still that 12 year old girl that doesn’t know what to do and is alone and “empty”.  But one thing I have learned through the work of ASCA is that “this too shall pass” I have every right to be happy, whole and complete. Something that I know now that I didn’t know when I first started is that these days don’t define me and they definitely are not an indication of my progress. If anything they remind me that I am human and incredibly strong. They remind me that I am a survivor and that the just like the memories never leave you, the work that we do here, never leaves me either. I know how to walk myself through this and if I don’t I know that there are people that I can call that truly support me and will listen and tell me the hard truth if necessary. As children, there is nothing that we could have done. Nothing that would have changed things, once we were beaten, touched, fondled, burned, hit, slapped, neglected for the first time, it was done. There was no way to undo it. But it is possible to love life again, and learn to work through those moments.

I don’t feel very productive now. I don’t feel very successful right now. But I know the truth is just that I had a bad damn day and tomorrow I can try again. J

What do you do?

I recently picked up Jane Pittman’s autobiography from the library and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I had often heard of her, but never was interested enough to actually read the book, but for some reason I did that day. At the beginning of the book Jane is freed. But she doesn’t have anywhere to go to. Her mother is dead and she never knew who her father was. She is free and has nothing. She doesn’t even have clothes. All she has is two potato sacks (dresses), not even shoes.

Maybe because I was 31 with 3 children to raise, I could appreciate and understood where African Americans had come from. Maybe it served the purpose to make me want to do more. More for myself. More for my family. More for others. I don’t know, but who she was humbled me. Most of my earlier journey through abuse and depression I shared through my writings last year, but that had nothing to do with knowing my history. It had nothing to do with how I felt when I read that book. What stuck out to me was, what do you do when you’ve done all that you could?

Jane lived on that plantation her entire life because it took another 100 + years for AA to be able to purchase the same things that others could purchase.  How could America set us free, and give us our potato sacks and tell us to survive? I guess in the same way the government stops helping you as soon as you make over $200 a week? It is clear that in America you are expected to survive to the best of your ability no matter how. This brings me to my next point. I recently read a blog about survival vs. morality and in the article, the writer talks about the realities of being poor. Such as having to make decisions that are not always moral.

What does poverty do to your soul? Is it fair to believe that if you want something bad enough you can do it? If you work hard enough, you can have it? If you just keep going, it’ll come? What do you do in the meantime? You know that place where you want to make better choices, but you have so much on your plate that you still think its okay to do a lil somethin’ on the side. What is the answer?

How could most African Americans have a chance? I don’t blame anyone for the state of this world because for one, I wouldn’t know where to start pointing fingers, but secondly what does it matter? The mental effects of not having enough are far worse than most people imagine. I hurt now thinking of things that I don’t have provision for that are coming up. Can you imagine it being 1865 and you literally have nowhere to go? It almost seems as if it has been in our blood to not have anything and not be worthy of having anything.

I didn’t grow up in a family that had much, but back then I didn’t know what much was. No one told me to reach for the stars or aim high except my teachers at school. I used to blame the men and women who did or didn’t raise me until I realized that they were more than likely going off of what they knew themselves. Which was to work hard, wait until payday, make a payment arrangement and do the best you could.

Social Darwinism claims that “only the strong survive” but at what cost? I’ll tell you, I have had a long life. But it’s been no longer than the other people in this world who have survived countless horrors and pain during their lives and still survived. I read page after page as people who loved Jane died or got killed. And she had to keep going. She had to keep living. Isn’t that one of the things about life that has not changed? We must go on. For most of us, it does not matter the dilemma or issue, we don’t have a choice but to keep going. So what do you do when you are faced with decisions that may not be life or death to the law but to you and your family it is?

What do you do to keep your sanity? Your situation may not be like mine and mine may not be like yours but we both may be fighting for the same thing, survival? I am religious and I believe in God, but what do you do when you didn’t learn who God was until you were older and had already lived half of your life leading yourself? Who’s to blame? Your parents? Their parents? God himself?

So you get high instead? You get drunk instead? You take pills instead? You steal money instead? You steal clothes, shoes, credit cards, anything you can get your hands on. Who’s to blame and are you wrong? Is the problem that you are stealing or that you have to steal to survive?  Funny thing is, the person that is stealing, getting high or both often live better than the person who is “trying to do the right thing.” How is that so? How could America possibly glamorize doing what you have to do at all costs, even if it means hurting other people?

I am in no way condemning breaking the law nor am I offering my opinion on anyone else’s life except my own. But what do you do? How do you judge those people? If you made a mistake at 18 and you’re poor you go to prison? If you make a mistake and you have money, you get probation and you get it expunged from your record? Is it because your mom had money to go to college and my mom didn’t? Or is it because your parents were thieves and embezzled money from other people? Stole things?

Yet I wonder after you have been to prison and you come home and try to better yourself, you can’t find a job. Just like that, America tells you that if you are a felon, I can’t hire you. But your probation officer tells you, I don’t care what happens, I need my money next week? What do you do? How are these people supposed to survive? The pressure to provide is real and I do believe it can cause you to feel out of control of your life and emotions.

How do you survive in a world that didn’t give you a chance from the start? I wonder what Jane was feeling or thinking? I know that she was only one of millions of people who didn’t know what they were going to do once they were freed. It may be a bit easier for us because even if the conditions are not what we would want, we still would have somewhere to go. But Jane had nowhere to go. No family or friends to save her.

I used to look at drug addicts and alcoholics and say, “how could they just do that to themselves?” Of course this was before I experienced what I perceived to be one of the most painful experiences of my life. Then I realized that I was just like them only I picked a different poison. Maybe what I did wasn’t self-destructive to my body, but it was still mentally holding me back.

I never asked the questions of what led them there? What happened to make them stop caring? Why isn’t anyone trying to save them? Where’s God in this forsaken world? But again my question, what do you do? What do you do when your back is against the wall and you have to make a choice? How do you manage? What do you turn to?

I think that poverty does something different to the people that want to be better and the people that don’t. Most of it is ignorance. Most people just don’t know how to live a different life because they have never saw a different life and fear makes us believe that the other side of life may be worse than the side we are on, so we play it safe and stay where we are. But then who’s to blame for that? Our parents again? Their parents?

Throughout the book Jane’s character never changed. She would say things like so and so passed away and she would say that they “knowed” it was going to happen eventually they just didn’t know when. The author of the book never mentioned Jane wanting more. He never mentioned Jane being spiteful of her life, he just showed her persevering through life, the way people always do.

Although it is never mentioned in the book, I am sure there were people who were able to get all the way North and experience full freedom, while others like Jane lived on the plantation years after they were freed. Where could they go? Maybe Jane didn’t know the people that they knew. By the time Dr. King came along, Jane was too old to fight. She said, she just wanted to enjoy the rest of her days. So she never ventured off far from where she was born and raised her entire life.

I guess my question is not so much as what happens next, rather what do you do to fix something that was created by society? Poverty. What do we do when we are glamorized for committing one immoral act, but condemned for committing another one? Where is the line drawn in the sand for the people who were born into a life that didn’t even give them a fair shot? It wasn’t so much about Jane’s parents dying, but to be orphaned at age 11 (she never knew her birthday or true age for sure) and forced to pick up the pieces to a life that was way too much for the years you had lived on this earth is all too familiar to me.

The fact of the matter is, the world doesn’t care what happened when you were 7 or that you are doing the best you can. The world will judge you by where you are, and honestly condemn you because you could have made better decisions but you didn’t. The world looks at you as, “not doing it right.” I wish I knew the answer. I read a lot of books about self-help and how to feel better, be better and do better, but I haven’t found the one that tells me how to do all of that while trying to be a great employee, mother, friend and family member. I haven’t read one that tells you how to have a breakdown and still get up and go to work the next day. Or to look at others in life and not feel like you’re not doing it right. Or even to look at the people who stole your innocence live happily ever after? Perhaps forgiveness helps with some of the issues, but I imagine, the man that just got out of prison, the single mom who doesn’t know how she’s going to pay rent, the married woman who is tired of her husband not coming home to even the grandma who can’t get over her husband’s death can all relate to “that look” or “that voice”
that people give you when they see where you are and what you are doing. Their refrigerator may be just as empty as yours or perhaps their husbands didn’t come home either, but they’ll never tell it.

This post started off as being about life and what we make of it. It was supposed to be about the true reality that life is hard and if you find a way to go through it gracefully consider yourself lucky. It was supposed to highlight that most of us, me included, didn’t have the easy route in life.   God chose us to be soldiers for him because we have nowhere to look except to him. But sometimes when I allow myself to write with no apprehension –this comes out.

I don’t know what Jane thought. But I wish I could have met her. I wish she could have told me the secret to survival after so much pain. It’s hard to see yourself somewhere else sometimes when you are going through so much pain, but this woman found a way to survive while everything else around her died. God took everything that she loved away and she still managed to love him without spite.

So again I ask:

What do you do? You keep going.

How? I don’t know, but just don’t stop.